Table of Contents
A thorough guide to public transportation in Rome
Public transportation in Rome can be tricky to navigate. The city’s buses, metro lines, trams and trains operate at different hours, have different routes, and can be subject to closures, strikes and detours.
Sometimes (read: often), ticket machines are broken, and outlets that sell them aren’t open 24/7. The city’s drivers aren’t known for being the most punctual, so timetables are often a mere hint of a fantasy from a dreamworld.
In June 2023, torrential rains caused the city’s A line metro to shut down temporarily, and you may have heard that there have been some instances of city buses catching on fire (to be fair, it hasn’t happened in a couple of years, to the best of my knowledge). And oh yes, how could I forget about the great collapsing escalator incident of 2018?
Overlay all of this onto a city that’s over 2,000 years old, and you’ve got a disastro on your hands, but don’t worry – I’ve got you! After reading this complete guide to public transportation in Rome, you’ll know how to avoid the pitfalls (although not necessarily the potholes – can’t help you there, I’m afraid) and be using Rome’s public transportation system like a local (i.e. complaining about it constantly and yelling things like “MADONNA SANTA!” And “PORCO %#*” when the metro pulls in and there are 70,000 people on it).
Just kidding (sort of). In any case, I hope this ultimate guide to public transport in Rome preps you well for your time getting around the Eternal City. Let’s go!
Rome’s public transportation system
The city’s public transportation system is run by l’Azienda Tramvie e Autobus del Comune, or ATAC. Their website, or at least most of it, has been translated into English. You can find information about tickets, passes, schedules, routes, lines and news, and get real-time updates there.
Is public transportation good in Rome?
Overall, public transportation in Rome is not good. The dysfunction of the city’s public transportation system (see the list of “cons” below) is one of the things that detract from the quality of life here, especially if you have to commute and in the high season for tourism (which now feels like pretty much all year).
It pains me to write that because I love this city so much, but at this point and for me, it’s true. Here’s why.
Cons of public transportation in Rome
Timetables aren’t always accurate
As I said above, the drivers of Rome’s public transportation don’t appear to be super concerned about schedules or abiding by them. Perhaps they exist in a far out world on another space-time continuum – I don’t know. What I do know is that it really fills my soul with joy when old ladies scream at bus drivers who are late. I dream of being that assertive one day.
I would say this issue is probably worst on the buses, but I don’t want to exclude anyone – the metros, trains and trams can be absolutely shit in this regard as well.
According to ATAC, 100% of their vehicles are monitored with GPS, so real-time updates as to where the bus/metro/tram/train is and when it will be arriving at your stop should be available, but, as anyone who lives or has spent time in Rome knows, this is unfortunately not always the case.
This article (in Italian) delves into some numbers, but the gist is that accurate info isn’t always available on apps designed to tell riders when they’ll be a-riding.
There are strikes
Strikes are common amongst various groups of unionized drivers, who protest for better pay and conditions. Sometimes, they’ll run regular services at rush hour, sometimes, it seems like everything is running even though there’s a strike on, and sometimes, nothing will run at all. They even close the entrances to the metro on certain occasions.
The good thing about the strikes is that they’re usually announced ahead of time, so if you have to get somewhere, you can make other plans (see the section below on alternative ways to navigate Rome).
There’s a lot of maintenance and track work
This is overall a good thing (more on this under the “pros” section), but ongoing work has really negatively impacted the flow of public transport throughout the city for the past year or so.
Major upgrades and long overdue maintenance work are happening (again, overall, excellent), so be prepared for interruptions to service, unexplained cancellations, and possibly long delays between runs, especially on the metro.
It can be a hotspot for pickpockets
I have seen many pickpockets lately, specifically at the Stazione Termini.
As I mentioned above, the past several months have seen a series of upgrades to Rome’s two main metro lines, which has meant reduced service while the track work and maintenance of the trains is carried out. Reduced service means that the metro has been absolutely packed, and packed metros mean PICKPOCKETS. It’s much more difficult to detect someone reaching into your pocket when you’re crammed between other people, and it’s much more difficult to stop someone from grabbing a bag off your shoulder if they do it while you’re getting onto or off of a crowded train.
I’m not saying this to scare you, I’m saying this so that you can watch out. You should be particularly aware of your surroundings and belongings at Termini, and on any other modes of public transportation around major tourists hotspots. Bus number 64, for example, has always been popular among thieves, because it goes from an area near the Vatican to Termini, and is regularly packed with unsuspecting visitors to the city.
How to protect yourself from pickpockets
You may have heard recently about Monica Poli, who, according to this profile in the New York Times, is a member of a group called “non-distracted citizens” in Venice who patrol the city for pickpockets and yell to warn both locals and tourists of their presence. She went viral on TikTok this past summer, but she’s been doing the work for years.
Just a few weeks ago, I was on the metro in Rome, and a woman about Ms. Poli’s age yelled “PICKPOCKET!” as a group of young women pushed and shoved their way off the metro after getting called out. I guess it’s catching on. Note that doing this is risky business – Ms. Poli was attacked a few years ago.
On another occasion this summer, I was on the metro, and a woman tapped me and whispered that there were pickpockets near the door.
Anyway, if you’re surrounded by distracted citizens, you can look out for yourself by keeping your bag or backpack in front of you, not carrying anything valuable in your pockets, and being aware of your surroundings when you whip out your expensive phone or camera.
Be especially cautious when getting onto the metro. Thieves often bump into you as they’re getting off, grab your bag, and slide it off your shoulder as you move past, leaving you on the metro, and them on the platform walking away with your bag.
Pros of public transportation in Rome
There are a lot of investments being directed towards improving it
As I mentioned above, there’s lots of work happening to Rome’s public transportation tracks, stations and vehicles. It might cause some inconveniences, but overall, this is a very good thing!
For all of the jokes I’ve made about the poor quality of transport in the city, there’s some really exciting stuff happening. Two new stops on the Metro C are opening – one at Porta Metronia in 2024 and one at Fori Imperiali in early 2025, with plans to extend the line to other important areas across the city.
The Metro A’s tracks are being replaced, and the Metro B’s trains are undergoing long overdue maintenance. New tracks have recently been laid for the Tram 8, and the city just awarded a tender for 121 new trams.
There are a couple of new tram lines planned, too – one called the Archeotram that would run near the Colosseum and through the ancient city, and another that would start at Termini, run down Via Nazionale, go through the center and then cross the Tiber, to the Vatican and beyond. These probably won’t be fully functional for a decade or so, but it’s exciting to think of Rome with a more extensive public transportation system.
Metro, bus and tram tickets cost 1.50. ONE FIFTY! That gets you unlimited tram and bus rides for 100 minutes, and one metro ride too (this includes a change from the A line to the B line or the A line to the C line and vice versa), so it allows you to switch means of transport (which you often have to do in Rome). In other words, if you have to take the metro and then a bus, or a bus then a tram, or two buses, two trams, whatever, and it all happens within 100 minutes, you can do it all on the same ticket. Also, if you take a bus (for example) to run an errand and then hop back on the bus within the 100-minute timeframe, you can use the same ticket, too. The same is true for the tram, but not the metro.
Public transport etiquette in Rome
It seems like lately, there are way more people on board any form of public transportation in Rome than there are seats. This is just the way it is for most of the year, and on most lines that pass through the city center.
There are a few things we can all do to make our rides and the rides of those around us more pleasant. Here they are.
Give up your seat if someone needs it
Some places are reserved for people who are elderly, pregnant or have mobility issues. There are spaces for wheelchairs and strollers.
If you are occupying one of those spaces or seats and you see someone who needs it, do your best to move. I’ve noticed that people tend to get up for the elderly in particular – nonni are very important in Italian culture (I think that’s why everyone was so good about masking and social distancing during the pandemic – we were collectively all doing what we could to protect the country’s sweet nonni).
LET PEOPLE GET OFF BEFORE YOU GET ON
Caps intentional. This topic enrages me.
The city is crowded and chaotic, I know, and we’ve all got somewhere to be, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LET PEOPLE GET OFF BEFORE YOU GET ON.
IF YOU’RE STANDING BY THE DOOR AND LOTS OF PEOPLE HAVE TO GET OFF, STEP OFF, STEP TO THE SIDE, AND THEN GET BACK ON
If you’re wondering if I’m ok, the answer is clearly no.
Do you need more information than the above? I’m basically saying that if you’re on the metro, for example, and you pull into Termini but you’re not getting off, and YOU’RE STANDING BY THE DOOR, GET OFF THE METRO, STEP TO THE SIDE, LET EVERYONE GET OFF, AND THEN GET BACK ON BEFORE THE PEOPLE WHO WERE WAITING ON THE PLATFORM GET ON. Easy!
Avoid public transportation at rush hour if you’re a tourist
This is something you can do to be a good traveler and to help fight overtourism if you’re in a city that’s affected by it. If you can avoid taking public transportation at rush hour, even just from like 8-9am and 5-7pm, those of us who live here will all be very grateful.
Quirks of the public transportation system in Rome (and those who ride it)
There’s probably no air con
Italians do not like cold air in general. If it’s blowing on their head or neck, they may ask you to call an ambulance. This is because they believe that cold can lead to an illness called “cervicale,” which, as far as I know, is a stiff neck.
I’m exaggerating – the metro generally has aircon going in the summer months, and I think the buses and trams do too, but it’s not always powerful enough to cool the vehicle down, or the 99 people on it, especially the guy next to you who has BO.
People crowd around the doors
Please see my rage note above about letting people get off before you get on. In case you couldn’t tell, people don’t always do this, so the entire city of Rome now has a phobia about not being able to get off at their stop. This leads most people to line up at the door before their stop, or to just camp out there so that they can be sure they’ll be able to get off.
This is particularly noticeable on the Metro. The genius who installed vertical bars to hold onto in the center of the car, in between the doors, deserves a medal for lunacy. Riders cling to them harder than a pole dancer, blocking people from getting both on and off. Why they didn’t put them between the seats so that the doors are clear is truly beyond me.
An old lady will probably startle you by saying “SCENDE ALLA PROSSIMA?” into your ear if you’re standing by the door
This means “are you getting off?” She’s not being fresh, she’s asking if you’re going to get off at the next stop so that she can get off. See?! Not being able to get off at your stop is a collective trauma (it happened to me a few months ago – the metro was so crowded that I couldn’t make it through the doors before they closed).
If you’re not getting off, try to move, or you can reply “No, ma La faccio scendere,” which means “I’ll let you get off.”
People do not enter and exit according to the signs
The doors on Roman buses are labeled, indicating which should be used to board and which should be used to alight, but these indications are not obeyed.
It’s basically anarchy
When I moved from Rome to Sydney, I remember being at a bus stop heading into the city and watching as people FORMED A LINE at the bus stop, and then THEY GOT ON THE BUS IN THE ORDER IN WHICH THEY HAD ARRIVED AT THE STOP.
I, meanwhile, being conditioned by Rome, had been ready to throw elbows and possibly trip someone to get on. I realized quickly that this would have been HIGHLY inappropriate, but I was used to Rome’s public transport system, which is basically the WWE Friday Night Smackdown every day of the week.
The thing about Sydney is that there are multiple buses, literally 1-2 minutes apart, during peak hour. If you don’t manage to get on the first one, there’ll be another one right behind it. In Rome, if you miss your bus, you might luck out and get another one shortly thereafter, or you could end up older than Methuselah before the next one comes.
Anyway, that morning in Sydney, I got on one of the many buses that came by, and I was hit with another wave of culture shock because PEOPLE SAID THANK YOU TO THE BUS DRIVER AS THEY GOT OFF. It was so sweet! I have NEVERRRRRRRR seen that in my almost ten years in Rome. Sometimes I say it just to be jolly, but I have never gotten a response.
On another busy morning in Sydney, I was waiting for a bus along one of the city’s main drags. A very crowded one pulled up, and the driver opened the door. “I can take two people!” He said, and the two people who had been waiting to get on the longest got on. Flawless. Impeccable. City living at its finest. Chef’s kiss.
In Rome, the bus driver doesn’t say anything to anyone, unless it’s to scream at them or call another driver an idiot (that’s not entirely true, sometimes they hit on women). They let people cram on, and as long as the doors close, they’re going to keep driving.
All of this is to say that in Rome, there is no order. People might cut in front of you. You may be pushed. Your feet may get stepped on. You just have to hold your own and laugh. And feel free to swear under your breath, like the Romans do.
Buying public transportation tickets in Rome
So, where do you get your hands on some of those cheap tickets? You have a few different options.
Ahh, the tabaccheria. It’s such a part of life here. When COVID hit and businesses were ordered to close, the exceptions were supermarkets, pharmacies, and tabaccherie. I suppose depriving people of cigarettes would have increased the national stress level significantly.
In addition to cigarettes, tabaccherie in Italy sell other things, including public transportation tickets. If you’re out and about during the day, you can easily pop into one and get however many tickets you need, but after hours, you’ll have to figure out another option (see below).
At metro stations, you’ll find ticket machines inside. Some only except coins, others accept cards and cash, and sometimes they’re broken.
Buying tickets with plastic bottles in Rome
Under the previous mayor’s administration, a few machines that trade plastic bottles for tickets were installed. I’m not sure how utilized they are, but I’m guessing you will probably not be walking around on vacation with 30 plastic bottles to trade in. If you live here or are going to stay for awhile, by all means, collect those bottles and trade them for tickets at Cipro (Metro A), Piramide (Metro B) or San Giovanni (Metro C).
How to validate your public transportation ticket
If you buy paper tickets, you have to validate them by putting them into a machine on board the bus or tram, or feeding it through a machine as you enter a turnstile on the metro. Make sure you keep your ticket! It’ll be the only way to prove that you’ve got one – more on that below.
Because the tickets are valid for 100 minutes, they’re stamped with the time that they expire, which can be handy if you’re planning on taking a few trips within that timeframe (one metro ride only, though, but remember that you can change from A to B at Termini or A to C at San Giovanni and vice versa with the same ticket).
Can you pay on board Rome’s trams, metro and buses?
As of recently, yes! Buses, metros and trams in Rome now have a “Tap&Go” console, but note that they’re sometimes broken (shocking, I know). It’s always good to have a backup ticket. I do this by always having a few tickets purchased through an app (see below).
If you pay this way and a ticket inspector gets on board, they’ll take the card that you utilized to pay and verify the purchase with a little gizmo. I’ve only been checked with the gizmo before, but you can also probably show them the charge if you have a banking app on your phone.
If you’re changing modes of transportation, just tap the same card. You won’t be charged twice if you’re within the 100-minute timeframe.
Apps for buying tickets for Rome’s public transport
According to the ATAC website, there are five apps that you can use to buy tickets: MooneyGo, Tabnet, TicketAppy, Dropticket and Telepass Pay.
I use TicketAppy. Once you download it, you can select the type of ticket you want to purchase, put in your credit card details, and you’re good to go.
Note that if you buy the single tickets with 100-minute validity, you have to activate the ticket once you get on board in case your ticket gets checked. Also note that if you select this option when taking the metro, you’ll have to go to the turnstile that has a QR code reader.
You can also buy one, two, and three-day passes on the app, as well as monthly ones – so convenient!
How much are public transportation passes in Rome?
If you’re going to be here for a considerable amount of time and you’re planning on utilizing public transportation a lot, you should consider getting a pass.
A one-day pass
A one-day public transportation pass in Rome costs 7 euro and lasts for 24 hours from the time of validation. If you’ll be riding 5 times or more, it’s worth it.
A two-day pass
Rome’s two-day pass costs 12.50 euro and lasts for 48 hours from the first time you validate it. If you’re taking nine rides or more, you’ll save money.
A three-day pass
The three-day pass for Rome’s public transport costs 18.00 euro and lasts for 72 hours from the moment of validation. Twelve rides or more, and you’ll be saving money if you buy this pass.
A weekly pass
Valid until midnight on the seventh day after you validate it for the first time, the weekly pass costs 24.00 euro. That’s 16 rides. If you take two-three per day, you’ll get your money’s worth.
A monthly pass
If you’re coming to Rome for a calendar month or more, this is the pass for you. It’s ridiculously cheap at 35 euro. With 24 rides, which it’s highly likely that you’ll hit, you’ll be saving money. What a steal! Note that Rome’s monthly pass does not kick in from the moment of validation – it goes by calendar month instead.
Is the Roma Pass worth it?
If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing while you’re here, you might want to consider getting a Roma Pass.
There are two types: one that’s good for 48 hours, costs €32 and covers access to one monument or museum of your choice, plus discounts on entry to others, and one that’s good for 72 hours, costs €52, and covers the cost of two monuments or museums of your choice, plus discounts on entry to others. Note that you have to book your visits online – you can’t just show up with the Roma Pass and get in.
With a Roma Pass, you can also use the aptly named “P.Stops,” which are little kiosks with toilets, tourist information, wifi, and water dispensers.
At the time of writing, the Roma Pass official website was down – classic – so I couldn’t access the list of covered monuments and museums. There are a few sites mentioned on another informational website about the Roma Pass, so we have some hints! They are:
Galleria Borghese (email firstname.lastname@example.org to make a reservation for free, otherwise there’s a €2 fee to book through TicketOne)
The Archaeological Area of Circo Massimo and the Circo Massimo Experience (which is Virtual Reality)
The Civic Museums, which comprise the Capitoline Museums, Trajan’s Markets, the Ara Pacis Museum, Centrale Montemartini, the Museum of Rome, the Modern Art Gallery, the Museum of Rome in Trastevere, the Museum of Villa Torlonia and The Zoology Museum.
Note that the Vatican Museums (which include the Sistine Chapel) are not accessible with the Roma Pass.
So, will you be saving money with a Roma Pass? The answer is, yes, but only if you want to see the most expensive sights, if you plan on visiting multiple things while you’re here, and if you plan on using public transportation a lot.
As far as I can tell, the two most expensive sights are the Colosseum and the Galleria Borghese, which are splendid. I highly recommend visiting them both on your Roman holiday.
Let’s break it down.
The 48-hour Roma Pass
Cost of 48-hour public transportation pass: €12.50
Cost of entry to the Colosseum: €16
Reduced entry to Galleria Borghese: €2
You’re probably thinking that the math ain’t mathin’ here, but it is, because if you didn’t have the Roma Pass, entry to the Galleria Borghese would cost you €16 too, bringing your total to €44.50. If you use the Pass to book one more reduced entry, you’ve just about recouped your total spent and gotten major discounts on the Galleria and whatever other sight you choose to see. Remember that you also have to take more than eight rides on public transportation, which, if you’re doing a lot of sightseeing, or using it to get to a special restaurant for dinner or something, is reasonable.
If I were you, I’d do the Colosseum and Baths of Caracalla one day, and then Galleria Borghese the next.
The 72-hour Roma Pass
Cost of 72-hour public transportation pass: €18
Cost of entry to Colosseum: €16
Cost of entry to Galleria Borghese: €16
Total: €50, so again, to make it worth your while, you’d have to book an entry to one more sight.
If you’re really ambitious, you could do the Colosseum, Baths of Caracalla and Circo Massimo in one day, Galleria Borghese and the Ara Pacis the next, and then whatever piques your interest the most on day three (keeping in mind that you can access a total of 45 sights). This would be tiring, but it would mean making the most of your Roma Pass.
If you’re coming to Rome for a short time and plan to spend it sightseeing, then the Roma Pass might actually work really well for you. If you’re interested in purchasing it and supporting Luggage and Life at the same time, buy your Roma Pass here, and grazie mille!
What happens if you don’t buy a ticket for public transportation in Rome?
You may have heard that people avoid paying for public transportation in Rome. This is unfortunately true. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, I think. People don’t want to pay for a poor service, but the service can’t improve unless people pay for it (and unless that money is used to reinvest in the system, of course).
Anyway, if you decide to be a butt and hop onto a bus or tram without paying (it’s a bit trickier to do this on the metro, owing to the turnstiles you have to go through), and an inspector gets on board, you’re going to get a fine (and I’m going to judge you).
How much is the fine for traveling without a ticket in Rome?
If you pay the fine on the spot, it’s 50 euro (ouch). If you pay it within five days, the same rate applies. After that, it goes up – way up. You’re looking at 100-500 euro.
In my mind, it’s not worth it, especially now that you can pay on board with the Tap&Go console, or just get a ticket on your phone.
Is there any free form of public transportation in Rome?
No, there are no free forms of public transportation in Rome. But like I said above, it’s cheap to ride – a single ticket with 100-minute validity only sets you back 1.50.
Can you get to Rome’s airports on public transportation?
You can get to Ciampino, Rome’s smaller airport that caters to low-cost airlines, on public transportation by taking the Metro B to Laurentina, and then taking the 720 bus. As long as the journey takes less than 100 minutes, that’s only 1.50 to get to the airport.
There is no way to reach Fiumicino with the 100-minute tickets.
Public transportation options in Rome
Rome has four major modes of transportation: trams, the metro, buses and trains.
Rome’s metro system
In my opinion, the metro is the best way to get around Rome by public transport.
While not remotely approaching the extensiveness of cities like London or Paris, Rome’s metro is (generally) fast, and it has stops at some of the city’s biggest points of interest. When people ask me where to stay when they’re visiting, I tell them to stay near a metro stop, especially if they have a lot of sightseeing plans for that very reason.
Rome’s three metro lines
Rome has two major metro lines (one of which has a little offshoot), and a third one that’s slowly being incorporated into the more major ones. The A and B lines are the major ones, and they only intersect at the Station Termini.
If you need to get from one line to the other, Termini is the only station where you can do so; however, you can also stay in a couple of strategic areas of the city that will allow you to walk to stops on either line.
If you stay in Vittorio Emanuele, for example, there’s an A line stop there, but you can also easily walk to Cavour to pick up the B line. Ditto for Tiburtino/San Lorenzo, which is around where I live – you can walk to Termini for the A line, or take the B line at Castro Pretorio. Castro Pretorio (B) is a 15-minute walk to Repubblica (A) too, so anywhere in between the two is good for both. Another key area is Celio, near the Colosseum, which has a B line stop, but is also close enough to walk to Manzoni on the A line.
Let’s go in alphabetical order (they’re conveniently labeled as A, B, B1 and C).
Rome’s Metro A
The metro A is color coded as orange on maps. It runs from Battistini, west of the city center, to Anagnina, which heads southeast, making 27 stops.
Areas of interest along Rome’s Metro A
Cipro: Vatican Museums
Ottaviano: St. Peter’s, Vatican Museums
Lepanto: Castel Sant’Angelo, and it’s also only a 20-minute walk to Piazza Navona
Flaminio: Piazza del Popolo, Villa Borghese
Spagna: The Spanish Steps
Barberini: The Trevi Fountain
Repubblica: Santa Maria della Vittoria church (for Bernini or Angels and Demons fans)
Termini: Rome’s main transportation hub, where you can catch trains, the metro, and buses
Vittorio Emanuele: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, Santa Maria Maggiore church
San Giovanni: San Giovanni in Laterano church, la Scala Santa
Colli Albani: Parco della Caffarella
Numidio Quadrato, Lucio Sestio, Giulio Agricola, Subaugusta: Parco degli Acquedotti (Aqueduct park, my favorite in Rome!)
Rome’s Metro B
Running from northeast to south, Rome’s Metro B was actually the first line built in the city, and it too hits a lot of hotspots. It’s also known as the blue line, and it has 26 stops.
Areas of interest along Rome’s Metro B
EUR: EUR Fermi, EUR Palasport, EUR Magliana
Basilica San Paolo: San Paolo Fuori le Mura (Saint Paul outside the walls)
Garbatella: A great neighborhood if you like green spaces, unique architecture, and good food
Piramide: The pyramid of Caio Cestio, the non-Catholic cemetary, Testaccio
Circo Massimo: Circus Maximus, the Palatine Hill, the Orange Garden, il Roseto Comunale di Roma (Rome’s Rose Garden – open seasonally), la Bocca della Verità (the Mouth of Truth)
Colosseo: The Colosseum, Arch of Constantine and Roman Fora, Domus Aurea (Nero’s Golden House)
Cavour: the Monti neighborhood, great for wandering, shopping, taking pictures, bar hopping, and eating
Termini: Rome’s main transportation hub, where you can catch trains and buses
Tiburtina: Rome’s other train station, where you can catch trains and buses
Rome’s Metro B1
At the Bologna stop, the Metro B splits. The B line continues to Tiburtina, Quintiliani, Monti Tiburtina, Pietralata, Santa Maria del Soccorso, Ponte Mammolo, and finally ends at Rebibbia.
The B1 line goes to Sant’Agnese/Annibaliano, Libia, Conca d’Oro and terminates at Jonio.
If you need to get to any of the stops on the B1, make sure that you hop on a “Jonio” metro, rather than a “Rebibbia” one. They are listed on the panels in each station that tell you when the trains are arriving, and on the front of the metro car itself.
Rome’s Metro C
The city’s newest line, the Metro C (red) runs from San Giovanni to Monte Compatri-Pantano with a total of 22 stops. The line will eventually revolutionize underground travel in Rome by continuing on from San Giovanni with stops throughout the city center and heading towards the Vatican.
Areas of interest along the Metro C
San Giovanni: San Giovanni in Laterano, la Scala Santa
Lodi: Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem)
Pigneto: the Pigneto neighborhood, known for street art, nightlife, restaurants, and its bar-lined pedestrian street
Teano, Gardenie, Mirti: the Centocelle neighborhood, a hotspot for foodies
Hours of operation of the Metro A, B, and C in Rome
Sunday through Thursday, 5:30am to 11:30pm. Friday and Saturday, 5:30am to 1:30am.
Note that at the time of writing, the A line was undergoing track work, so substitute buses are in place from 9:30pm onwards during the week (Sunday through Thursday). It runs as usual (until 1:30 am) on Fridays and Saturdays.
La Metro Mare – the “sea” line
Ok, so there’s another “metro” in Rome, although it’s not really a metro – it’s more of a “trenino” or little train that runs from Porta San Paolo, which is attached to the Piramide metro station, to Ostia, aka Rome’s beach.
This is a great option if you’re on a budget but want a beach day, because the ticket is just a normal city ticket – €1.50!
Hours of operation of la Metro Mare
Service from both ends starts at 5:15am, with a departure very 15-20 minutes. From Monday to Friday, the last train leaves at 9pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, it leaves at 12:07 (midnight). Note that after 9pm, the trains are a bit further between.
The current timetable is available here. Note that, at the time of writing, there were some closures and some work going on at one of the stations. In the event that the line isn’t running when you’d like to take it, there should be a replacement bus service.
Areas of interest along the Metro Mare
Ostia Antica: An ancient Roman city that today is a large archaeological site. According to Rick Steves, it rivals Pompeii! I’ve never been, which is so stupid it hurts. I must get there ASAP!
Ostia (beach): You can get to the beach from the stops at Lido Centro, Stella Polare, Castel Fusano and Cristoforo Colombo.
By far the city’s most extensive public transportation network, Rome’s buses are an easy way to get around (provided that they turn up, of course, and that there’s actually space for you to get on).
In my experience, you’re most likely to have your ticket checked on the bus, so buy one before you get on, or get your card out to Tap&Go AND have a backup one on the app, just in case, like I do.
Requesting a pickup
If you’re at a bus stop and you see your bus coming, you should stick out your hand to signal to the driver that you’d like to be picked up. You should especially do this if you’re alone or nearly alone at the stop, and if there are multiple buses that stop there.
Requesting a stop
Buses in Rome don’t stop at all the stops. If you don’t request one by pressing the orange buttons found in various areas of the bus, the driver will careen right past it.
Rome’s tram lines
Rome currently has seven tram lines. The lines are frequently under construction. When this is the case, substitute buses are utilized. As you can imagine, trams can hold way more people than a single bus can, so when substitute buses are used, be prepared for crowded conditions and perhaps long waits.
Flag the driver and request a stop in the same way that you would for a bus.
Line 2: Flaminio/Piazza del Popolo – Mancini
This route makes eight stops in Rome’s Flaminio neighborhood.
What are the hours of Rome’s tram 2?
The first tram leaving Piazzale Flaminio is at 5:30am, the last one runs at 12:05 (that’s midnight), or 00:05.
In the other direction, the first train departs from Piazza Mancini 5:21, and the last one leaves at 12:24 (00:24).
Areas of interest along Rome’s tram 2
Piazza del Popolo and Villa Borghese, Explora, which is Rome Children’s Museum, and the MAXXI, Rome’s museum dedicated to 21st century art, are all along this tramline.
You can also walk to Ponte Milvio from the Tiziano stop on line 2.
Line 3: Valle Giulia – Stazione Trastevere
This long line runs from the Pinciano area all the way to Trastevere, with frequent stops that include many of Rome’s major sights (see below). At the time of writing, a substitute bus was running between Porta Maggiore and Trastevere station.
What are the hours of Rome’s tram 3?
The hours of the substitute bus were not available on the ATAC website when I checked. I found a reference to the hours of the tram itself on another website, which are 5:45 to 12:30/00:30. I’m guessing that the bus operates at the same hours, but I can’t confirm that, unfortunately.
Areas of interest along Rome’s tram 3
Trastevere, Porta Portese Sunday flea market, Testaccio, Ostiense/Piramide, the Aventine Hill, Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano (Saint John in the Lateran), San Lorenzo (La Sapienza University), Quartiere Coppedè, Villa Torlonia, the National Modern Art Museum (Galleria Nazionale dell’Arte Moderna).
Line 5: Gerani – Stazione Termini
This line connects the city’s east to Termini. It passes from Piazza Vittorio, where you can find a mix of cuisines and several interesting sights, through some of Rome’s coolest neighborhoods, including Pigneto and Centocelle.
What are the hours of Rome’s tram 5?
From Gerani, the first tram departs at 5:48, and the last one is at 12:06 (00:06). From Termini, the first run is at 5:30, and the last is at 12:11 (00:11).
Areas of interest along tram 5
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, Pigneto, and Centocelle.
Tram 8: Venezia – Casaletto
This tram conveniently runs from Piazza Venezia through Trastevere and out to Monteverde. If you’re going to da Cesare al Casaletto for lunch or dinner (and you should do that), this tram is a great way to get there (last stop!).
Areas of interest along tram 8
Piazza Venezia, Largo Argentina, Campo de’ Fiori, Trastevere, and Villa Pamhilij.
Tram 14: Togliatti – Stazione Termini
Similarly to line 5, this tram runs from Piazza Vittorio through Pigneto. It skirts the northern side of Centocelle, and then finishes up in a neighborhood called Quarticciolo.
Tram 19: Gerani – Risorgimento/S.Pietro
This line runs from the Vatican all the way to Centocelle, passing through several different neighborhoods, including some covered by the other tram lines.
Areas of interest along Tram 19
St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, Explora (the Rome Children’s Museum), Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Villa Borghese, Quartiere Coppedè, San Lorenzo, Pigneto, and Centocelle.
Giardinetti line: Laziali – Centocelle
This narrow-gauge line runs from behind the Stazione Termini on the Esquilino side (the first stop is called Laziali) out to Centocelle.
Originally, the train went all the way to Frosinone, a town south of Rome, but as I understand it, we’re talking decades ago. At some point, it was shortened to just 19 stops, the first one being Termini and the last one being Giardinetti, hence the name, but these days, it only goes as far as Centocelle.
Rome’s urban trains
It’s also possible to hop on a regional train that makes stops at Rome’s smaller stations, many of which are located in central areas. The regional trains can sometimes be more convenient than the other public transportation options.
If you’re staying near one of these stations or are curious to see where you can get to on them, go to Trenitalia’s website.
The urban stations that are of interest to us are as follows:
Roma Trastevere – This station in Trastevere is also convenient for getting to Testaccio.
Roma Ostiense – A major transportation hub, you can get to the B line metro from Ostiense, hop on a train to Fiumicino, or visit the attractions in the area (the Pyramid, the non-catholic cemetery, the street art, etc.)
Roma Tuscolana – If you’re staying in the Appio Latino area (and want to avoid the metro) this could be a good option.
Roma Tiburtina – This is Rome’s second-largest station, with connections to bus lines, other trains (even high-speed ones) and the Metro B.
Roma Nomentana – This station caters to the city’s northeast.
Roma San Pietro – This station is good for visiting Vatican City.
Valle Aurelia – This is a residential area, and you can also get the Metro A at this station.
Quattro Venti – If you’re staying in Monteverde, this station might be a good option for you.
The Flaminio-Montebello line
This other “trenino” departs from Flaminio and actually goes all the way to Viterbo, but I believe that you can only use a city ticket to Montebello, because that’s the “tratta urbana”. You can find the stops on this line here.
Getting around Rome by public transportation at night
The only option for getting around town by public transportation at night, the night bus in Rome is generally a pretty insane place to be. They run from midnight to 5am, when regular daytime service starts to kick in again.
Prepare yourself for the antics of drunken fools, and if you’re a drunken fool, feel free to join in.
Joking aside, be careful on the night bus. If you’re a women alone, I’d say probably don’t take it, especially if it’s very late at night and the stop you’re getting off at isn’t well lit or highly peopled.
There are multiple lines that cover various routes, but two in particular that run the length of each metro line and stop near the stations, so they’re convenient if you’re staying near a metro stop (which, again, I recommend).
Night buses are indicated with an “n” for “notturno”.
Useful Italian words and phrases for public transportation
La metro = The metro
Un/l’autobus = A/the bus
Un/Il tram = A/the tram
Un/Il treno = A/the train
Una/la fermata = A/the stop
Un/Il biglietto = A/the ticket
Un/l’autista = A/the driver
Salire = To get on
Scendere = To get off
“Un biglietto per la metro/l’autobus/il tram, per favore.” = One ticket for the metro/bus/tram, please. (You don’t have to say all of them, just choose one).
“Scende alla prossima?” = Are you getting off at the next stop?
“Scendo a (name of stop)” = I’m getting off at (Colosseo, for example).
“Vuole sedersi?” = Would you like to sit down?
And possibly the most important one – “PERMESSO!” which means, “LET ME THROUUUUUGH!” (It actually doesn’t, it means “excuse me” in this context, but you’ll need to say it in order to indicate that you’re trying to get off).
Alternatives to public transportation in Rome
I admit that I haven’t painted the loveliest picture of Rome’s transport system, so fair enough if you’re interested in other options for getting around the city.
Rome underwent a boom in electric micromobility options during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, with e-bikes and scooters popping up all over the city.
At one point, there were seven different companies operating, but, as I understand it, the city decided to reissue tenders and reduce the number to three. I’m not sure where the process stands at this point.
As is the case in probably any old city, and especially Rome, the integration of micromobility vehicles into existing traffic patterns and areas of the city has not gone smoothly in all cases. Many residents complain of them crowding street corners and blocking sidewalks. Frankly, I’d rather my city be congested with bikes and scooters than cars, but maybe that’s just me.
The center of Rome is generally walkable. You’ll hit some uneven pavement and cobblestones that have seen better days, but as long as you have good walking shoes and some stamina, you’ll be grand.
I love walking, especially here, so much so that I wrote up a whole walking tour of Rome so that you can do some sightseeing as you stroll!
There are also taxis in Rome, and Uber operates, albeit on a small scale, but that’s a post for another day.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to public transportation in Rome, and that you feel equipped to get around the Eternal City with it!
Thoughts? Questions? Share them in the comments!
This post contains affiliate links. If you use one to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting Luggage and Life!